In the last three chapters we have introduced the topic of when the conflict of earth’s history will be over and Christ will return. That time will come when God’s children on this planet have fully responded (“yes” or “no”) to His final pleading. The conflict will be over when His loyal children on this planet will have become so settled into the truth that they are ready to resist Satan’s final efforts to deceive. Christ will return when His followers not only know the truth well enough to survive but, like Job, they know it well enough to speak well and truly of their heavenly Father. This chapter explores the timing of the end of human history and its relevance to how we view the character of God. The question addressed in this chapter is not so much when the conflict will be over, but rather how soon it will be over.
Many of us wonder if the conflict will end and Christ will return in our own lifetime. The disciples wondered about this already in their time, and they asked Jesus: “Tell us, when will this be and how can we tell when You’re coming back and the world will come to an end?” Matt 24:3, Beck. And Jesus replied that even the angels do not know. In fact, in His human form, even He did not know: “But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son; only the Father.” Matt 24:36, NEB.